PREVENT POLICY

Counter Terrorism & Security Act (CTSA) 2015

Merlin Academy recognises its responsibilities under the Counter Terrorism & Security Act (CTSA) 2015 to prevent people of all ages being radicalised or drawn into terrorism. Prevent is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism. Prevent is 1 of the 4 elements of CONTEST, the others being Prepare, Pursue and Protect, of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy. It aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, through recognising and preventing radicalisation an extremism. The academy promotes a multicultural environment where respect for, and tolerance of, other people’s beliefs, and for those without faith or belief required at all times.
In addition this Policy and Risk assessment are reviewed at least annually in accordance with the latest guidance and Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) 2021.

Principles
This policy is based on the following principles:
● Democracy
● The rule of law
● Individual liberty
● Respectful tolerance of different faiths or beliefs or those without faith

Aims
This policy, in conjunction with referenced documents, has the following aims:
● to explain our commitment to Prevent;
● to detail our Prevent policies and procedures;
● to promote British Values at all times;
● to provide a clear procedure to be implemented in the event of concerns;
● to ensure that everyone is protected from potential radicalisation.
It may help you to develop a deeper understanding and more clarification of the different words and phrases used when you’re discussing or thinking about extremism and its related topics.

British Values
The British values that should be encouraged, promoted, upheld and exemplified by all are:
● democracy
● the rule of law
● individual liberty
● mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for
those without faith.
Extremism
Extremism is the holding of an extreme political or religious view which may deny right to any group or individual. Extremism can refer to a range of views, e.g. racism, homophobia, right-wing ideology, as well as any religious extremism. Extremism can be expressed in vocal or active opposition to Core British Values, and may also include calls for the death of members of the armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.

Radicalisation
Radicalisation is the act or process of making a person more radical or favouring of extreme or fundamental changes in political, economic or social conditions, institutions or habits of the mind.
Prevention
In the context of this policy, prevention means reducing or eliminating the risk of individuals becoming involved in terrorism. Prevent involves the identification and referral of those susceptible to violent extremism into appropriate interventions. These interventions aim to divert the susceptible from embarking down the path to radicalisation.

Vulnerability
Vulnerability describes the condition of being capable of being injured, difficult to defend, open to moral or ideological attack. Within Prevent, the word describes factors and characteristics associated with being susceptible to radicalisation.
Our commitment to Prevent
Our commitment to Prevent begins with our Prevent Lead, who is responsible for creating a risk assessment and action plan, which is reviewed and updated annually or following an incident or concern. It is recognised that all members of staff, Assessors, and students have a responsibility to uphold the principles and aims of this policy.

Training
At the Academy we provide training and guidance to all members of staff, homestay providers, group leaders, and students; the aim of our training and guidance is to provide knowledge and confidence to all.

Staff are given:
● A Code of Conduct that specifically references Prevent duties.
● Online training provided by the Education and Training Foundation.
● Face-to-face training and updates by the Prevent Lead.
Assessors are given:
● A Code of Conduct that specifically references Prevent duties.
● Informal face-to-face training once a year.
● Update training as necessary following new information from partners.
Students are given:
● A Code of Conduct that specifically references Prevent duties.
● Online training provided by the Education and Training Foundation.
● Tutoring and counselling appropriate to their perceived need.

Recognising Risk
It is important to understand that extremism is not isolated to any particular type of person: any student regardless of Race, Religion or social belief may be radicalised. Equally, extremist views may be held by students, members of staff, group leaders, or staff at employer sites.
A person may come into contact with the Academy who already holds extremist views, or they may be influenced by a range of factors while in the UK or from around the World. Those influences include, but are not limited to:
● global events
● peer pressure
● the media
● views expressed by family or friends
● extremist materials, accessed either online or in hardcopy
● inspirational speakers
● friends or relatives being harmed
● social networks
People who are vulnerable are more likely to be influenced. Our safeguarding policy details when someone might be considered vulnerable and reasons why this might happen. By its very nature, vulnerability may exist in certain groups or individuals and staff must be able to recognise these situations. This vulnerability may permanent or indeed just temporary, so staff need to be familiarise themselves of their apprentices circumstances.

Vulnerability could also stem from a range of causes:
● loss of identity or sense of belonging
● isolation
● exclusion
● mental health problems
● sense of injustice
● personal crisis
● victim of hate crime or discrimination
● bereavement

Counteracting Risk

Although risk can never be completely eliminated, there are many ways in which we can reduce the risk of people being radicalised, and help to protect and prevent people from extremism. At Merlin we concentrate our efforts through education, teaching, openness and wellbeing for Staff and Apprentices.

It is our duty to:
● Promote a safe and supportive international environment via clear expectations of accepted behaviours and those, including radicalisation and extremism that will not be tolerated.
● Uphold and exemplify British Values through information given to students, notices displayed around the academy, examples set to students by staff and Assessors, and via classes and discussions that include education about British culture, traditions, and beliefs.
● Where possible, develop critical awareness and thought to counter accepting extremism without question, especially of online material.
● Challenge radical or extremist views in any context, formal or informal, following stated procedures and reporting duties.
● Be ready to react when local, national, or international events cause upset; being aware of the likelihood of conflicting feelings being expressed, and alert to potential acts of recrimination.
● Have strong filters on IT equipment and clear rules on accessing extremist websites, as well as the use of social networks to exchange extremist views.
● Ensure that extremist speakers do not use the premises to distribute material or expound views.
● Get to know our students and guests, their home circumstances and friendship groups. Through knowing students well, it is easier to spot changes in behaviour.
● Be observant and vigilant in noticing any signs of radical or extremist behaviour.
● Work hard to support any students identified as vulnerable and at risk

Signs that may cause concern
The following signs may suggest concerns and should be raised with the Prevent Lead immediately:
● Talking about exposure to extremist materials or views outside academy.
● Changing attitude, e.g. intolerant of differences / having a closed mind.
● Changing behaviour, e.g. becoming isolated.
● Falling standard of work, poor attendance, disengagement.
● Asking questions about topics connected to extremism.
● Offering opinions that appear to have come from extremist ideologies.
● Attempting to impose one’s own views / beliefs on others.
● Using extremist vocabulary to exclude others or incite violence.
● Accessing extremist material online or via social network sites.
● Performing overt new religious practices.
● Possessing drawings or posters showing extremist ideology / views / symbols.
● Voicing concerns about anyone.

Any concerns relating to a vulnerable person are Safeguarding issues, and should be dealt with according to the Merlin Academy Safeguarding Policy & Procedures.
Heightened risks as a result of Covid 19
The risk assessment responds to a number of heightened risks that have become apparent due to the outbreak of COVID and the increased reliance of home working and home study. Guidance is issued via the, educate against hate website: https://educateagainsthate.com/resources/covid-19-prevent-guidance-forschools-and-further-education-providers/ and is grouped into:
• Disinformation – ‘Fake or misleading stories created and shared deliberately, often by a writer who might have a financial or political motive’.
• Misinformation – This also means fake or misleading stories, but in this case the stories may not have been deliberately created or shared with the intention to mislead.
• Conspiracy theories – Conspiracy theories offer a simplifying model for all that cannot be explained or easily understood. They typically involve an ‘alternative’ explanation for an event or situation to those provided by governments and official international bodies, sometimes suggesting a group, individual or organisation is responsible or hiding information from the public. A current concern is associated with anti-vax protesters and campaigners, due to national rollout of COVID vaccines. This may also include misinformation or disinformation.
Staff are required to understand the impact of this online material, which can often be ‘dressed’ as joke emails, videos, blogs to mask the real intent.
Leaders should also be vigilant to staff with strong, but legal views, that may not be in line with medical or government policy – for example anti-vax rhetoric. Whilst Merlin welcomes free speech, it must be conducted in line with British Values and within the rule of law. The guidance also highlights how this material exchange may be transferred during COVID lockdowns/ isolation.
• Exposed to misleading and hateful content: Young people may have been exposed to fake stories or conspiracy theories about COVID-19, which attribute blame on minority groups.
• Engaged with extremist individuals: Young people may have become exposed to or engaged with extremist organisations or individuals, especially online.
• Increased vulnerability to radicalisation: COVID-19 may have increased vulnerability to radicalisation as children and young people may feel isolated, anxious, frustrated, and angry. This could increase the resonance of intolerant messaging and appeal of extremist groups or individuals offering explanations for the crisis.
Furthermore, the Commission for Countering-Extremism (CCE) have highlighted the following prominent extremist narratives:
• Antisemitism: Several conspiracies blame the Jewish community for spreading the virus, including claims that COVID-19 is a Jewish plot, either as a hoax or a deliberate creation, to remove civil liberties and impose totalitarian rule. Please note the international definition of antisemitism is available here: https://antisemitism.org/definition/
• Anti-Muslim hatred: Claims that British Muslims have flouted social distancing rules and spread the virus have been promoted, particularly on social media. Whilst these have been disproven, high profile extreme right-wing influencers have blamed Muslims for the spread of the virus.
• Anti-Chinese hatred: Hate crime and hate incidents towards Chinese people have risen. Reports have found a 300% increase in the use of ‘hashtags’ that encourage or incite violence against China and Chinese people online.
• Islamist: Islamist extremists have used COVID-19 to support existing narratives to promote the need for a Caliphate over democratic society, claiming the pandemic is a divine punishment for the West’s ‘sinful’ behaviours.
• Right-wing: Right-wing extremists have similarly exploited the pandemic to amplify the weakness and hypocrisy of democratic values like tolerance and freedom.
• Accelerationism: Extreme right-wing individuals have promoted the idea that society is inevitably collapsing, and that right-wing terrorism can accelerate its end through inciting social conflict, violence and ultimately a race war.
• Wider conspiracy theories: Extremist individuals have exploited a number of prevalent non-extremist conspiracy theories, related to 5G, track and trace and anti-vaccine, which can be detrimental to public health messaging. In some cases, these have been linked to anti-Semitic or other hateful narratives. Although Left-Wing, Anarchist and Single-Issue (LASI) extremism is low, a minority of individuals have supported the targeting of 5G masts. This was based on the perception that masts allowed the government to control people.

Other issues of notes include:
The British Government moved to a ‘Living with Covid Plan’ from the 23rd February 2022. Which reduced the amount of ongoing restrictions underpinned by vaccines, and to protect the vulnerable and maintain resilience.
Recently the Incel sub-culture has become more widely known following a shooting incident in Plymouth. The ‘Incel Saints’ are reportedly seen by some in this subculture as ‘martyrs’ to a cause, by a small, but potentially vulnerable and/or dangerous group of individuals who identify with misogynistic views and perspectives.
Campaigns in response to support of Black Lives Matter, particularly in British football, where ‘taking the knee’ has resulted in reported increases in racism from the terraces.
More recently since February 2022, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has drawn comments about both sides, Russia and Ukraine. The conflict is raising issues around Right Wing Extremism (RWE), Capitalism and Communism, among other issues.
How and when to react to concerns
It is of paramount importance that any concern or incident, however small, be reported immediately. Any report will be dealt with sensitively and carefully, with confidentiality assured for the person reporting a concern. If you have a concern, please contact the Prevent Lead: Stuart McDonagh. Tel: 07716 241557. Email: stuart.mcdonagh@merlinsupplychain.com
In Stuart’s absence contact any other member of the Safeguarding team at the email below.
Email: safeguarding@merlinsupplychain.com

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